The Expendables is a fun franchise that spotlights older A-list action stars and would be a mistake for the series to end with The Expendables 4.
The Expendables franchise of ensemble action movies should carry on, long after The Expendables 4. The series, originally conceived as a script called Barrow by writer David Callaham (Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse), doesn’t just pay homage to the old-school action movies of the 1980s, such as Rambo: First Blood Part II and Predator, but also helps to spotlight new talent to the genre. Appearing in The Expendables franchise alongside action legends such as Jet Li and Arnold Schwarzenegger, are relative newcomers like Glen Powell (Top Gun: Maverick) and Liam Hemsworth (The Hunger Games).
Led by Sylvester Stallone, The Expendables series centers on a titular group of mercenaries who carry out various high-stakes missions, generally for a mysterious handler known only as Mr. Church (Bruce Willis). The first two entries in The Expendables franchise were immense financial successes, leading to the resurgence for many of its cast members’ careers. The Expendables 3 was notoriously released with a PG-13 rating in theaters and disappointed at the box office, becoming the lowest-grossing movie in the entire franchise. For the upcoming The Expendables 4, and the future of the series as a whole, to succeed, the franchise has to evolve carefully, without losing its central appeal.
The Expendables Franchise Is Too Important For Older Action Stars
The Expendables franchise is too important for the older action stars that it spotlights to end after The Expendables 4. The series has aided in reviving the mainstream careers of many of its cast members. For example, The Expendables was the first theatrical release for star Dolph Lundgren since 1995’s notorious box office bomb Johnny Mnemonic. Since the film’s release in 2010, Lundgren has returned to the big screen many times, in blockbusters such as Aquaman and Creed II.
Without The Expendables movies, many of the older action stars that it showcases would likely be ignored by Hollywood for their age, without a chance to show off their charm again on the big screen. The Expendables is a fun, high-budget franchise that allows its cast to indulge in every entertaining action movie trope under the sun. However, in order for the franchise to continue its important role as a love letter to the action genre, The Expendables has to evolve past its central focus on its main star: Sylvester Stallone.
How The Expendables Needs To Change To Succeed
Simply ending with The Expendables 4 would be a mistake for the franchise when it can change for the better with one simple decision. The franchise, starting with The Expendables 4, must reinvent itself to become even more of an ensemble piece, decentralizing its focus on Stallone. Luckily, this is exactly what the film looks like it is doing since Sylvester Stallone isn’t top-billed in The Expendables 4.
Instead, Stallone seems to be using the film as an opportunity to offer the spotlight to his other co-stars, returning the franchise to its original pitch as an ensemble piece. While The Expendables 4 also looks to be the first film in the franchise to move away from a pure focus on former action stars by focusing on a smaller cast that is new to the genre, such as Megan Fox, there’s room for it to provide space for other actors in the future. In order for the series to succeed past The Expendables 4, the film must allow The Expendables to change into a true ensemble action franchise.